After several years away from the Shore, Kate Achille recently returned to her roots in Monmouth County. The resident marketing and creative lead for The Devon Group, Kate joined the agency in 2012. A history buff with a Master’s degree in Historical Studies, her work as a historian appears in the recently published Encyclopedia of Military Science. She is also a certified Pilates instructor who spends her spare time taking on new adventures, playing with her dog and working on her 90-year-old house. Today Kate shares with us a guide for the small, seaside hamlet of Asbury Park, NJ she calls home. —Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump…
all photos by Kate Achille
Be sure to check out this Google Map with all of the below listings!
The cultural center of Asbury Park, the Boardwalk area has legendary locales including The Stone Pony, Convention Hall and Madame Marie’s, in addition to these spots.
The Empress Hotel opened in the 1950s as a family hotel adjacent to the Boardwalk. Today’s Empress is clean and kitschy and caters to a more diverse crowd of beach-goers. The hotel features 101 rooms, poolside tiki huts and the Paradise Nightclub right downstairs.
The Silver Ball Museum is every pinball wizard’s dream come true. Open 7 days a week, Silver Ball features hundreds of fully restored vintage pinball machines and other arcade games available to play. Buy an unlimited pass for all-day fun or take a break from the beach to play by the hour.
Just off the Boardwalk on 4th Avenue, the Asbury Lanes is part music venue, part bowling alley, part dive bar and all around a raucous good time. Under threat from area developers, it looks like the Lanes’ days are numbered, so check their website for event info on when they’re open. It’s worth it.
Inside the Grand Arcade at Convention Hall there are a bunch of little shops worth checking out. There’s a fun house offshoot of Shelter Home, Greetings from Geralyn, Criterion Chocolates and more. It’s a good place to pick up some interesting souvenirs, too.
Serving up Neapolitan-style pizza and more, Porta is a good place to join a few friends for brunch, dinner or what’s betweener (seriously, they offer a betweener menu). Order a salad, split a pizza and have a drink before heading back towards the Boardwalk.
If you’re an animal lover or a music lover, definitely check out the Wonder Bar. This Asbury Park mainstay welcomes bands all year round and hosts Yappy Hour six nights a week in the summer. Drinks are reasonable and the vibe is casual.
Head down the Boardwalk and up to Watermark for upscale cocktails overlooking Asbury and the Atlantic. The drink menu is lengthy and organized by alcohol; most cocktails run upwards of $10. In the off-season head inside and stay warm and cozy by the fire.
The sleepy north end of town is full of big beautiful houses, tiny parks and, lately, lots of spaces under development.
Offering year-round lodging, the Hotel Tides is a small boutique hotel in a mostly residential neighborhood. This little gem features one of the finest restaurants in town as well as a bar and lounge open Wednesday through Sunday. There’s also a spa and an outdoor swimming pool that opens to the public in the warmer months.
The North End Beach at 8th and Ocean is the area’s de facto surfing and dog beach. In the off-season dogs can run free along this stretch of the shore but in summer months, Fido’s fun is limited to the early morning hours. Either way, the northern beaches in town tend to be less touristy and more remote.
For history buffs and literary enthusiasts alike, there’s the Stephen Crane House on 4th Ave. Crane spent his formative years in Asbury Park way back when before penning The Red Badge of Courage. More recently, the Crane House appeared on an episode of Ghost Hunters and hosts the Asbury Park Historical Society’s monthly meetings and special events.
Open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., the Coastal Habitat for Humanity Re-Store is a treasure trove of lightly used vintage furniture and housewares alongside the occasional new item. Prices are reasonable and the store accepts debit and credit cards.
Walking into Frank’s Deli & Restaurant at 1406 Main Street is like taking a step back in time. The old-school diner proudly serves classic breakfast and lunch options at reasonable prices and still displays its original menus on the walls. Think greasy spoon and expect a no-frills experience in a crowded dining room. Frank’s is renowned for its homemade corned beef and remains cash only.
Billing itself “The Gay Cheers of Asbury Park,” Georgie’s is a friendly little dive bar tucked away between Main and Memorial. There’s karaoke, dancing, darts, live music, an outdoor space and more. The food’s not bad either.
Main Street & West Side
Encompassing a large part of town, Main Street and the West Side are full of little shops, stores and places to explore mixed with residential and municipal spaces.
If you’re looking for fun on two wheels head over to Second Life Bikes, a community bike shop that specializes in mechanically refurbished rides. Area kids are encouraged to put in 15 hours of time in exchange for a bike of their own to rebuild. Score a sweet ride at a fair price and give back to the community.
Start your day off right at The Chat & Nibble with pretty much anything off the menu. There are typically several different eggs Benedict dishes on special as well as a few seasonal specialties (think Stuffed Dulce de Leche French Toast or Pumpkin Pancakes). You pretty much can’t go wrong.
If you’re in the mood for Mexican, stop by La Tapatia on Main Street. Good for groups, the portions are huge and you can order margaritas by the pitcher. Order up El Molacajete Tradicional or Vegetariano to eat, it does not disappoint.
Located across from the train station, Johnny Mac’s has 16 beers on tap and offers free pizza every day. Heavily decorated with a small sidewalk area outside, Johnny Mac’s is always happening with tons of events from speed dating to skeeball. On Sunday mornings they offer free omelets and $3 Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
These few blocks are jam packed with bars, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, bookstores and a ton of great shopping. There’s a lot to do and see.
Into the weird, off-beat or occult? Even if you’re not, don’t miss the Paranormal Museum that’s adjacent to Paranormal Books & Curiosities on Cookman Ave. Learn more about area ghosts, The Jersey Devil and a host of other spirits and beings for $5.
In the event of rain, catch a movie at The Showroom, Asbury’s art house movie theater. They screen lots of independent movies and host a ton of events with filmmakers, actors and film enthusiasts. If you’ve got time to kill before the movie, head next door to Cookman Creamery for a quick cone.
Inside the Shoppes at the Arcade, located at 658 Cookman Ave, you’ll find a number of vintage and specialty shops like Junksnotjunk, midcentury modern and vintage finds, and ACD|WSH, wood sunglasses, watches and accessories. There’s no central directory anywhere online but just go and spend a few hours getting lost.
Offering carefully curated vintage pieces as well as custom handmade VLAD denim and accessories, Sweet Joey’s is a unique little family-run operation. Joey Pisch and his dad, Vlado, work together to keep the place stocked with comfy tees, custom totes and a whole lot of cool.
A newcomer on Bangs Ave, the Red Moon Life & Home Store carries small-batch accessories, paper goods, bath and body products and home items all made in the USA. Follow @redmoonap on Instagram to stay in the know about their inventory and pop-up collaborations with other local craftsmen.
A bright, airy space serving inventive vegan food, Goldie’s has a changing menu that is currently Mexican-inspired and features small plates, very small plates and side dishes. A sample menu item is the Papi Chulo, a tostada with fried maitake mushrooms, crumbled daiya, pickled onions and salsa verde. Be sure to ask about the $5 cocktail special, too.
Make a stop at Bond Street for cheap beers served in mason jars and a punk-laden playlist blaring from the bartender’s phone. There’s usually a local beer or two from Kane and Carton on tap along with a specials menu, with food like pork roll fries, posted above the bar. Crowds up quickly at night so go early to score a spot.
There are a ton of people working to put the City by the Sea back on the map, these are just a few:
Kate Hiltz – Revered as a friend to most everyone she meets, Kate is best known for her work with Chunksaah Records and The Bouncing Souls (she’s the inspiration for their song “Kate is Great”).
Marilyn Schlossbach – Active community advocate and the powerhouse behind a number of vacation-inspired hot spots on the Boardwalk.
Joe Koukos – Proprietor of Holdfast Records on Cookman Ave. and sponsor of the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market events.
Jenn Hampton – Between her work at the Lanes and Parlor Gallery, Jenn is a tour de force in the Asbury arts and music scene.
Bret Morgan – Serial entrepreneur and technology evangelist involved with Cowerks, Asbury Fresh, Bands on a Budget and the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup to name a few.
Bruce Springsteen – Because even after 40-something years, he’s still The Boss.